Legal Innovation and the Control of Gang Behavior

Posted: 6 Dec 2007

See all articles by Eva Rosen

Eva Rosen

Harvard University

Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh

Columbia University - Department of Sociology


This review considers one of the most prominent methods of combating gang activity in the second half of the last century, namely the deployment of legal strategies to prevent gang formation and intervene in existing gang structures. These include highly formalized strategies, such as the enactment of legislative decrees such as injunctions that limit the association of gang members in public space, as well as informal procedures in which communities create an indigenous and localized set of norms and juridical procedures to fight gang activity. Research on legal tactics and gang control in the past few decades has shown that the formative understanding of the city as a social ecology of distinct and separate communities, in which social institutions and residents are largely attuned to activity occurring within their boundaries, remains at the heart of social policy formulation with respect to youth delinquency. The review addresses these major legal innovations and the debates surrounding them.

Keywords: law, crime, street gang, youth, disorder, order maintenance, gang behavior

Suggested Citation

Rosen, Eva and Venkatesh, Sudhir Alladi, Legal Innovation and the Control of Gang Behavior. Annual Review of Law & Social Science, Vol. 3, December 2007, Available at SSRN:

Eva Rosen (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

33 Kirkland st
536 William James Hall
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh

Columbia University - Department of Sociology ( email )

3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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